Romanticism and Children's Literature in Nineteenth-Century England

Romanticism and Children's Literature in Nineteenth-Century England

by James McGavran Jr.
     
 

In England at the turn of the nineteenth century, the advent of Romanticism coincided with major changes in ideas about children and childhood, eventually resulting in a great flowering of imaginative children's literature. In contrast to the previous century's stern moral tales, children's books began to appeal to the unsullied powers of perception, cognition, and

Overview

In England at the turn of the nineteenth century, the advent of Romanticism coincided with major changes in ideas about children and childhood, eventually resulting in a great flowering of imaginative children's literature. In contrast to the previous century's stern moral tales, children's books began to appeal to the unsullied powers of perception, cognition, and creativity thought by the Romantics to reside in pre-adolescents, and also to the anxieties of adults who longed to reclaim their own lost childhood selves.

These essays document and examine the transformation of children's literature during the Romantic period, and trace Romanticism's influence on Victorian children's literature. Using a variety of critical approaches, including neo-historicist, feminist, mythic, reader-response, and formalist, the contributors challenge established dichotomies in children's literature regarding morality and imagination. Rather, as they demonstrate, a complex interplay of instruction and delight ran throughout nineteenth-century texts for and about children. In addition, they document some of the ways the child was perceived and interpreted, secularized and spiritualized, by such writers as Samuel Taylor Coleridge, William Wordsworth, Maria Edgeworth, Mrs. Sherwood, Hesba Stretton (Sarah Smith), Juliana Ewing, George MacDonald, Lewis Carroll, Frances Hodgson Burnett, and E. Nesbit.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"McGavran knows what he is looking for: The often obscure and even contradictory forms that romanticism took in nineteenth-century English children's literature. He performs a service to scholarship in children's literature by showing that the books being examined are not so simple as they may seem to those who disregard the complexity and sophistication of the field and only make a slap-dash study of it."—Nineteenth-Century Prose

"An impressive and valuable collection."—Romantic Movement Bibliography

"Offers thorough and careful readings of canonical Romantic texts and authors, but also showcases very good examples of some of the most interesting, revisionist work current in scholarship of the history of children's literature. . . . This collection asks provocative questions with implications beyond this volume, allowing for further study on this critical period in children's literature scholarship."—Victorian Studies

"The high quality of most of these contributions should help to break down further the obstinate notion that works written for juveniles somehow lack the required Arnoldian 'high seriousness' or Jamesian craftsmanship of canonized adult classics."—Journal of English and Germanic Philology

"The treatment of 'romanticism' in these eleven essays raises questions about the utility of broad and diffuse terms of explanation, especially when applied as if they had an autonomous content largely independent of the complex changing social, economic, political, aesthetic, religious, and psychological realities that affected perception and conduct from the late eighteenth to the early twentieth centuries."—History of Education Quarterly

Nineteenth-Century Prose
McGavran knows what he is looking for: The often obscure and even contradictory forms that romanticism took in nineteenth-century English children's literature. He performs a service to scholarship in children's literature by showing that the books being examined are not so simple as they may seem to those who disregard the complexity and sophistication of the field and only make a slap-dash study of it.

Romantic Movement Bibliography
An impressive and valuable collection.

Victorian Studies
Offers thorough and careful readings of canonical Romantic texts and authors, but also showcases very good examples of some of the most interesting, revisionist work current in scholarship of the history of children's literature. . . . This collection asks provocative questions with implications beyond this volume, allowing for further study on this critical period in children's literature scholarship.

Journal of English and Germanic Philology
The high quality of most of these contributions should help to break down further the obstinate notion that works written for juveniles somehow lack the required Arnoldian 'high seriousness' or Jamesian craftsmanship of canonized adult classics.

History of Education Quarterly
The treatment of 'romanticism' in these eleven essays raises questions about the utility of broad and diffuse terms of explanation, especially when applied as if they had an autonomous content largely independent of the complex changing social, economic, political, aesthetic, religious, and psychological realities that affected perception and conduct from the late eighteenth to the early twentieth centuries.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780820334875
Publisher:
University of Georgia Press
Publication date:
10/01/2009
Pages:
272
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.61(d)

Meet the Author


James Holt McGavran Jr. is a professor of English at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte.

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